Sweet Saturday Samples

From Trajectories, coming 3/2012 from Turquoise Morning Press. Note: This excerpt is not the final edited copy and may vary slightly from the published version.

Maddie suddenly growled, stopping dead. One paw hung suspended in the air and she tensed.

“Maddie? What’s the problem?”

The retriever lowered her head to the ground, slowly pacing a circle. Kit leaned over the spot that had thrown the dog off. Maybe it was a coyote. Maddie hated them.

A paw had indented the soft ground right where the aging dog had gotten spooked. Kit nodded—positive it was a coyote—and crouched down next to it to get a better look. Maddie circled around her, chest rumbling. Kit knew a little about prints. Her dad had been pointing them out to her since she could walk. Deer and rabbit marks were everywhere, but this didn’t belong to one of the gentle guys. It had the four toes and pads of a predator, and it was big. Laying her hand over top of it, she could spread her fingers and barely cover it. Deep claw marks dug into the leaf mold ahead of the pads. Cats sheathed their claws when they walked; this was some sort of huge canine.

If this was a coyote, it was mutant. What sort of a thing made a print like that?

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